The Indian men’s football team slumped to their fourth straight defeat, losing 1-2 to Turkmenistan in the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers in Turkmenistan on Thursday.
India thus remain at the bottom of Group D and now have virtually no chance to even qualify for the Asian Cup by finishing third.
For the winners, Gubanch Abylov scored the first goal in the 8th minute while Arslanmynat Amanov scored the winner at the stroke of the hour. For India, Jeje Lalpeklhua equalised in the 28th minute.
With the team’s training severely hampered due to the Indian Super League (ISL) preparations, the national team players did not have any motivation as they were practically out after losing the first three matches. The defeat also puts national coach Stephen Constantine’s future in doubt as the Indian team under him has gone from bad to worse in the last year or so.
India had the first chance of the game as Francis Fernandes lined up a shot only to see it go inches wide of the post. Turkmenistan managed to take the lead against the run of play just two minutes later as Abylov hit on the counter-attack.
However, India equalised in the 28th minute. The Turkmenistan keeper Mammet Orazmuhammedow parried a shot but Jeje, who was lurking in the box kept a nice overhead lob to make it 1-1.
The hosts went ahead again in the 60th minute as Amanov’s smart finish made it 2-1. Jeje once again tried to restore parity but his powerful header was directed straight at the keeper who collected it with ease.
India had a golden opportunity to equalise late on in the 86th minute as a profligate Robin Singh had only the goalkeeper to beat, but failed to do so.
That proved to be the last chance for the Indian team, who will now like to at least draw, if not beat, the lowly placed Guam side and salvage some of their badly-dented pride.